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Editor’s Note

James R. Adair

Much of the world’s oldest art is public art. From the petroglyphs preserved on rock walls in Australia (from 40,000 B.C.E.), to paintings on the cave walls in Namibia (25,000 B.C.E.) and Lascaux, France (17,000 B.C.E.), to the much more recent Great Sphinx of Giza (2,550 B.C.E.) and Ishtar Gate in Babylon (575 B.C.E.), artists have frequently displayed their work in public spaces. Sometimes art is commissioned, sometimes commanded, and sometimes the work springs purely from the imaginative vision of an artist, or artists, driven by an inner creative impulse.

The drive to share one’s experiences, beliefs, and stories artistically with the public isn’t limited to the Old World. Early artists working in what is now the Pecos Valley of Texas about 2,000 years ago created the White Shaman mural, a wall painting eight meters long and four meters high depicting the story of creation. Not long after the founding of San Antonio 300 years ago, artists from Spain decorated the missions with colors and images that contrast with the drab appearance of these buildings today, now that the paint has almost entirely chipped off or faded. They were quickly joined by other visual artists—painters, sculptors, architects, wood carvers, and more—whose efforts made the city named after a famous wordsmith whose orations amazed the ears blaze to life in a feast for the eyes.

That tradition continues today. In this issue of Voices de la Luna we pay tribute to many of the innumerable examples of artistic expression that fill the city. Caroline Davis and Don Mathis contribute essays on the impact of art and architecture, respectively. Kathy Armstrong describes the annual celebration of light and art called Luminaria, and Jasmina Wellinghoff discusses the San Antonio Door Project, an effort to involve the public in the creation of public art.

Of course, we have poetry as well. Our featured poet, Edward Vidaurre, the 2018 Poet Laureate of McAllen, shows the reader his deep connection with family and community, one that transcends space and time. In keeping with our theme, Carolyn Chatham shares a poem about San Antonio art, and many other poets—including several youth poets—weave their words into beautiful linguistic tapestries.

We have short stories by Tisha Reichle and Nancy Ford Dugan. We also continue our Writers on Writers series with essays by local author Jay Brandon and San Antonio Poet Laureate Octavio Quintanilla.

But mostly we have images!—lots and lots of images of public art around the city. Some of the art was done by professional artists working on commission. In other cases artists were hired to advertise a business. In still other cases the artists simply found a public space to exercise their talent.

All parts of the city are represented on the following pages. Octavio Quintanilla and I took many of the photos on a single day as we drove around town for a few hours, yet so much more is out there to be enjoyed. I encourage you to get off the highways and drive the city streets almost anywhere in the city. Look on the walls of businesses, in parks and other public spaces, along the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek, and even under bridges. You’ll be amazed at the visual cornucopia that adorns our city!

 


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Themes for future issues
Nov 2018: Multicultural San Antonio
Feb 2019: Freedom of the Press

Current Voices

 

Growing Up

Edward Vidaurre

We had one true thing in common: A mother Half-brothers in a full house Latch-key little misters four years apart We sat on plastic covered muebles Watching novelas con mama We learned spanish malcriadeces When mom yelled at el Canal 34 We knew the scent of Pinesol & Clorox Before perfume on women We learned to iron clothes Before differences We all loved the same girl at one time In different ways We all survived the death song Of our barrio, by luck We became men Before finishing boyhood We became addicted to life & not drugs and booze, barely We have a bond that through the years Walked on tightropes, never has a Wall separated us We are aging, our mother fragile We are grown men, with children All grown up Somos hermanos

 

Catrín Charro outside Chef Johnny Hernandez’s Burgerteca

Public Art in Southtown

 

Menudo vs. Hot Dogs

liz gonzález

Eeeeuw! When you bite the tripe does it slime your tongue? How can that help your cold, your hangover, your stomach flu? Watching you eat makes me want to throw up. Quips from the uninitiated as menudo squiggles off the spoon and slurps through my lips. These same people charcoal hot dogs for a Sunday pool party. Stretch cheeks scarfing down Dodger dogs. Menudo is all natural. Simple with 5 ingredients: hominy, tripe, chili, water, and salt to taste. Nothing to hide. You see it all float in the bowl. Wieners got some stuff you can’t find in a dictionary. Pumped up   with red dye and nitrates. Carcass scraps the butcher threw out. Pieces vultures wouldn’t munch. I’ll take that soup speckled with the lining of cows’ stomachs over a bunned weenie any day.

 

Rainbow Crosswalk

Public Art in Midtown

 

Art of San Antonio

Carolyn Chatham

Mariachi and pizza mingle from the restaurants on the River. At street level traffic is thick on Losoya, tourists and locals stepping unconsciously to the beat of many cultures, many peoples. A young man bronzed arms flexing in the heat stops to admire The Torch of Friendship, a gift from Mexico to San Antonio. His own art is also open to the public. Scenes run riot on his skin from clavicle to wrists and down his back. Stories of his life, his aspirations. Two works of art publicly displayed. Nearby on the corner of Commerce and Losoya a mother and daughters wait for their ride while the children draw with chalk on the pavement. The bus arrives with tattoos of its own, even a poem scrolls across its side. A tourist stops to ask directions to the Alamo. The bus draws up its air breaks hissing. The young man moves away from La Antorcha de la Amistad. The children and mother move together to the door. A living tableau of the art of San Antonio.

 

Torch of Friendship

Public Art Downtown

 

 


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